Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a communication from two of the American missionaries in Syria, relative to an outrage by certain persons in the locality where they reside. On the receipt of the same, in conformity with my request, instructions were issued by the Porte to Daoud Pacha, governor of the Lebanon, to enforce redress of the grievances complained of. The offending parties, I presume, are Maronite or Armenian Christians.
I am happy to be able to inform you that, in consequence of the adoption of the measures which I deemed it my duty to request of the Porte, for the arrest and punishment of Mustouk Pacha, governor of the district of which Alexandrette is the port, and who abetted and protected the murderers of the Rev. Mr. Coffing, the whole of that part of Syria has been at last brought under the authority of the Porte, and purged of the numerous bands of brigands who infested it. The mountain region, inhabited by Kurd and Turcoman tribes, over which this pacha and his relatives ruled supreme, is traversed by defiles, through which pass the great routes of travel to one of the richest sections of Syria. The suppression of brigandage in such a district is a benefit of no ordinary character to the trading and agricultural populations of that part of the empire.
The beys of this mountain region, comprising the Kozan Dagh, the Ghiaour Dagh, Kurd Dagh, &c., and of which Mustouk Pacha was one of the principal, are all of the same family of Tchoban Oghlou, (shepherd’s son ) One of their ancestors, a simple shepherd, found an enormous diamond in the Indjé river, in the canton of Teitch, which he presented to the sultan of that time. In return, the Sultan gave him the whole of this region as an hereditary fief. The diamond is yet preserved in the imperial treasury, under the name of Tchoban Tach, (shepherd’s stone.) The descendants of the shepherd prince continue to inhabit the country where their ancestor fed his flocks. They have ruled over it, nominally as feudatories of the sultan, but their authority eventually became so great that [Page 233] they refused further to pay tribute, and became altogether independent of the imperial government. Their mountains were the asylum of assassins and robbers, and their followers, abandoning peaceful pursuits, gave themselves up to expeditions of robbery, murder, and pillage against travellers and the surrounding inhabitants. Although calling themselves Mussulmans, they had the audacity on several occasions to plunder the caravan of the Suré Emini, (the Sultan’s annual gifts to the sacred shrine of the Caaba,) while on its way to Mecca. The trading interests of this part of Syria were nearly ruined, and there was no security for life or property on the great routes of Aleppo, Aintab, and Kilis.
Many attempts had been made in vain to reduce them to submission. They successfully resisted Ibrahim Pacha of Egypt, and a few years since they inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Ottoman troops under command of Aziz Pacha. When I found that Mustouk Pacha was the protector of the assassins of the Rev. Mr. Coffing, I insisted on his deposition from office, taking the position that the Porte really governed that part of the country, or it did not; that if it did, I had a right to claim of it the removal of a provincial governor who gave asylum to the assassins of an American citizen. After repeated instances on my part, the Porte finally, and even at the risk of kindling a rebellion among the mountaineers, ordered the governor of Adana to seize Mustouk Pacha and send him and his family to Constantinople. This was done, as related in despatch No. 68, but, unfortunately, one of the sons of the Pacha escaped the general arrest, and raised the standard of rebellion. Other chiefs rose with him, and the revolt became so serious that the Porte was obliged to take the most energetic measures for its suppression. An expedition of 5,000 men, under Dervish Pacha, was organized, with orders at every hazard and cost to put down the insurrection; to seize the insurgent chiefs, and to bring them to the capital.
Dervish Pacha, the commander of the expedition, was in the late war with Montenegro, where he showed himself perfect master of the art of mountain warfare. For this reason he was selected for this most difficult undertaking. By skilful measures, and after a series of desperate combats, he succeeded in carrying the mountain fastnesses, and in capturing or enforcing the surrender of all the insurgent beys. They have since been transported here, and their country is occupied by detachments of troops. New governors have been appointed in their stead, and guard-houses built in the defiles for the protection of travellers. For the first time in a quarter of a century the roads are secure, and murder and brigandage have ceased to be rife. The conscription has also been enforced, and the annual tribute collected.
This brief narrative will tend to show the wretched condition of the interior of the Turkish empire, and the difficulty of procuring the enforcement of law and order, and proper provisions for the security of foreign citizens resident within its limits. My action in this instance has fortunately resulted in a great public good. I have thus been incidentally the instrument of the government which I have the honor to represent, in restoring tranquillity to one of the most disturbed divisions of the empire, and of throwing efficient protection around the pathway of the traveller and trader in Syria. I have reason to believe that this course of action has materially increased the respect in which the American government is held in Turkey, and has yet more strongly confirmed the opinion generally entertained of its far-reaching power and influence.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.